How I Found Paddle Boarding
By: Corey Poedtke
“Why can’t we just get a regular boat?” “Because, Kevin this is gonna better, trust me.”
“Could I fish on one of those?”
I have always been a fisherman. I admit I’m not as addicted to the sport as some. (my friends and family may disagree) I am not the most successful fisherman, (my friends and family do agree) but I do have my occasional days. I’m not entirely sure why I go fishing besides the fact that I enjoy it. I rarely ever keep a fish. One benefit from fishing is the ability to communicate with my friends. All of my close friends go fishing with me once in a while. My friends and I are all out of high school doing different things in our lives, going to different schools and pursuing different careers. Going fishing gives us a chance to talk and be men at the same time. Even though this sport seems to fulfill a social benefit, I have always been searching for more. I could always sense there is something else that is more extreme, more fun, more me.
It wasn’t until the hot dry day in the middle of June when my friend Kevin and I sat at the Lake Wingra Boathouse looking at the paddleboards. I told Kevin,
“Were going fishing off of one of these.”
“Why can’t we just get a regular boat?”
“Because Kevin this is gonna be better, trust me.”
Kevin was nervous because of a number of reasons. One being that this was our first time using a paddleboard, another being the fact that we were attempting to fish off of the “modernized planks.” But what he was mostly nervous and concerned about was that we were fishing for one of the largest fish you can find in the Midwest. Musky fishing is no easy task for regular fishermen but the thought of targeting this fish on a paddleboard made Kevin a bit queasy. I admit that I was a bit nervous too but I was also excited and looking forward to trying this.
After making all of the paperwork arrangements the boathouse got us all set to go on the water. We had a small of amount of tackle in a tie sack that we put on our backs. We set our rods down on the middle of our boards and we prepared ourselves for an experience of a lifetime.
I went first taking the first initial knee onto my paddleboard. My body dipped onto the board. At first an unnatural feeling, but once steadied I adapted to it. There I was about three inches above the surface. I could feel the current, the varying up and down flow of the water, and the wind pushing at my back.
“This was different.”
As instructed, I paddled out of the boathouse on my knees. I looked back to see how Kevin was doing. Kevin was slowly following smiling but also giving me a look of uneasiness. I stood up for the first time almost losing my balance but not allowing Kevin to notice. Kevin then attempted to stand up. He almost lost his balance too but managed to stand up successfully.
I lead the way to the opposite side of the lake. I found a place where Kevin and I could stand in the water if need be. We stood over three feet of crystal clear water where we could see the sandy bottom. We would either stand on the sandy shore while holding onto the boards, or sit on them letting our legs and feet hang in the water. We caught a couple bass with this method and gained some confidence.
Over time we figured if we paddled our feet back and forth while our feet hung off the board it would act like a trolling motor. We got so good at this method we eventually moved into deeper water. At one point we were back to back cruising the shoreline. One would cast into the shallow water, as the other would hit the deeper weed beds. Using this method, in under an hour we caught our first musky. Kevin of course hooked into it. It was a sight to behold.
The musky hit Kevin’s lure right next to his paddleboard giving Kevin quite the scare making him instantly take his feet out of the water and onto the board. He then went into a kneeling position. The musky started swimming away and Kevin’s pole followed bending completely down into the water. The musky then took off against the current taking Kevin with him. Kevin’s board began to act like a trailer being hauled by Two Men in A Truck.
He began yelling and laughing at the same time, giving little hoots and screaming my name to help him. I had to paddle to catch up to him. It was kind of hard because the whole time I was bent over laughing. When I got close enough I pulled a glove out of my bag put it on and grabbed Kevin’s musky under the gill. We de-hooked him and I held the biggest fish Kevin has ever caught. Around 40 inches this musky had some good girth and a lot of power. Unfortunately as Kevin was digging for his camera the Musky shook with force and strength I didn’t expect.
The Musky wiggled out of my hands and back into the water with a loud ski-doosh. Kevin looked back at me only to see me in a frozen pose where my glove hand was covered in slime and my other hand acting as if holding the tail. I give him a quick smile and he lets out a whine.
“Of course you had to drop the biggest fish I have ever caught before I can get a picture.” If you catch one I’m getting my picture with it.”
Probably for the next hour or two Kevin was butchering me, teasing me about it. I tried to explain to him how strong the fish was. Later in the day we began to use the wind to our advantage. We would paddle up the shoreline and let the current take us back down it, the whole time casting behind us. At one point Kevin was ahead of me in the current and I was facing the other direction. I looked behind me while retrieving my lure asking Kevin how he was doing. I heard a faint reply and looked back at my lure only to see that a musky was floating in its place. My heart jumped into my throat and I lifted up to set the hook. I yelled to Kevin and the tiger striped fish took off. The Musky didn’t swim as far or give up that much of a fight compared to Kevin’s.
After a couple of the musky’s lunges in the attempts to get away he appeared to give up. I didn’t really fall for it at first. I let him float in the water trying to provoke him to fight because I know that some muskies like to play possum. (act like they are exhausted) I landed him about two minutes later. This time I had the fish held tight. I laid him on my board, had two hands on him and I made sure he wasn’t going anywhere. At least I thought. Kevin held up the camera, and I held up the fish to get a picture. Immediately after the picture was taken, the fish wiggled out my grasp again, right back into the water, making the same noise as it splashed in, ski-dooosh. I look back at Kevin with the same pose I had earlier and he returned the favor giving me the same look.
“Man, I wanted a picture with it. I didn’t even care who caught it!”
There went another hour by where he teased me. As we paddled in to end the day, I thought to myself,
“I found it, and I love it. I will be fishing like this for as long as I can.”
I’m sure at the same time Kevin was thinking, “I just wanted one picture.”